USO Okinawa annual gala to honor 7 for contributions

by Stripes Okinawa
Stripes Okinawa

The USO Okinawa will host the 47th Annual Service Salute Gala at the Butler Officers’ Club on May 19. Seven service members of the U.S. Armed Forces and Japan Self-Defense Forces will be honored at the black-tie event for their outstanding professionalism, leadership, service to country and embodiment of the USO’s eight core values. The following are this years’ honorees:

Petty Officer 2nd Class Taichi Asakura 
Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Asakura is an aviation weapon maintenance member of the Fleet Air Wing 5 Maintenance and Supply Squadron.
He has shown outstanding development in his aviation weapons and maintenance abilities, and has received high evaluations from others around him in his current position. In 2013, he was awarded for diligence in his professional duties.
In addition, he is a unit counselor committed to promote the mental stability of fellow service members, participating as an instructor for counselor training courses to care for their emotional needs. 

Staff Sergeant Colby C. Davis

U.S. Air Force
Davis is the Vault Custodian for the Pharmacy, 18th Medical Support Squadron, 18th Medical Group, Kadena AB. 
In 2016, Sergeant Davis earned the privilege to serve as a Japanese linguist for the annual PACOM REDHORSE exercise, partnering with three other nations and 120 Japan Air Defense members. His translator skills and support were a key to its success. Sergeant Davis’ leadership was also instrumental in accomplishing two narcotic biennial audits of 280 high-risk medications, which assisted in the 18th Medical Group’s Joint Commission accreditation. 

Technical Sergeant Akamine

Japan Air Self-Defense Force
Technical Sergeant Akamine is a member of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s 9th Air Wing Maintenance Supply Group, Armament Maintenance Squadron.
After joining the Japan Air Self-Defense Force in 1996, she worked as a Weapons and Ammunition Maintenance officer and assisted in flight training and territorial airspace security measures, and engaged in Cope North Guam. Furthermore, she has been a measurement equipment maintenance technician since 2008 and has tested and accurately calibrated a wide range of instruments, and has contributed to the rate of aviation operations by implementing systematic adjustments.
She has also participated in the NCO Association’s volunteer activities. Having trained in karate from childhood, she has three consecutive victories in the All-Okinawa Karate Open Tournament Women’s Kata category since 2015. Making the most of these experiences, she actively exchanges with local residents by instructing children under junior high school age, and has established close ties between the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and local community.

Sergeant Makoto Shiraishi 

Japan Ground Self-Defense Force
Sergeant Shiraishi is a Unit Supply Sergeant of the Headquarters Service Company who manages the proper maintenance of equipment supplies.
His extracurricular activities include organizing an English conversation class with the U.S. Army (1-1 ADA) to improve the language skills of regiment troops. He has also contributed to improving the combat skills of troops as a combat leader, and training of new regiment junior troops.
Sergeant Shiraishi conducts his duties responsibly, works improve himself, and is an excellent member of the Self-Defense Force. He has greatly contributed to strengthening the relationship between the Japan Ground Defense Force and the U.S. Army.

Sergeant Landon R. Martin

U.S. Marines
Sergeant Martin is an Aviation Communications System Technician for 1st Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Air Control Group 18, Marine Air Support Squadron 2.
While Serving as the Maintenance Crew Chief during Weapons and Tactics Instructors course 17-2, Sergeant Martin oversaw hundreds of hours of training for 15 ACST Marines and numerous others to increase the units’ overall readiness and combat effectiveness. Sergeant Martin continuously strives to increase his Marines’ MOS proficiency and set an outstanding example that they should strive to achieve.

Petty Officer Third Class Michael A. Hearon

U.S. Navy
Hearon was recognized as the Junior Sailor of the Quarter for the First Quarter of FY’17 and received the Armed Forces Scholarship granted by the Buffalo Club. While attached to NOSC Buffalo, Petty Officer Hearon volunteered to the New York Naval Militia that is activated during disasters/crisis for the local community.  He volunteered for the Color Guard where he participated in the rendering of final honors to 56 service members and 22 color guard events, demonstrating the pride and professionalism of the U.S. Navy.

Specialist Christopher L. Hawkins Jr

U.S. Army
Hawkins Jr is a personnel Security Manager in the S-2 Shop on Torii Station. Upon arrival to Okinawa he was selected for a streamer detail in the Army Ball and held a role in the NCO induction ceremony. SPC Hawkins’ First time qualifying with an M16, Shot an expert, and has since been assigned the 240 Bravo qualifying expert with that weapon system as well. SPC Hawkins was also a part of the construction of the first ever Army pop up range on Okinawa.
In July of 2017, SPC Hawkins was able to participate in the Bilateral Mission “Talisman Sabre 17” where he earned his first Army Achievement Medal. Shortly after returning to Okinawa, SPC Hawkins obtained the title of Soldier of the Month for December of 2017. Since then he has earned two more AAM’s along with earning his Associates degree.

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